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We all know we’re supposed to read our Bibles. We probably feel guilty if we’re not reading it every day. But do you know how to study the Bible? If you’re not really sure how to begin, that could be making it harder for you to cultivate that wonderful habit. Let’s take a look at some important tips, and a method that may help you get started.
Having a plan in mind for your reading will help you focus when you sit down to read. Where do you want to start? What is your goal for each session?
It doesn’t really matter which plan you choose. You might want to read cover to cover. Or perhaps you’ve tried that and lost it in Leviticus more times than you can count, so you’d like to start with the New Testament. Perhaps you’d like to read chronologically.There isn’t a perfect reading plan.
Are you reading one chapter each day? Are you trying to read through in one year? Or do you want to be flexible with the quantity?
When my kids were very young, I decided to read cover to cover, but not necessarily in a year. I just wanted to pick up where I left off the last time, and read however much I had time for that day. That way I wouldn’t ever be behind and quit. That’s still a plan! And after failing to complete several other plans, I finally succeeded in reading the entire Bible.
Don’t let finding the perfect plan keep you from reading. Just choose one.
The Perfect Day to Begin
Once you’ve decided on your reading plan, you’ll want to choose a day to begin. Can I humbly suggest the one perfect day to begin?
No, it’s not New Year’s Day, contrary to popular belief.
Nor is it necessarily Monday.
The most perfect day to begin your new Bible study is today! Absolutely. There are no compelling reasons to wait.
How to Study the Bible
You’ve got a plan, and it’s the perfect day. But now what?
If you have a tendency to sit down with your open Bible, read a few verses, and then find your mind on totally unrelated things, you’re not alone! While there’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to study, I’d like to share a study method with you that will help you engage with the text as you read, keeping your mind from wandering away.
1) Make an outline. No, don’t groan! We’ll make it simple, and there are no right or wrong answers and no grades! As you read through the passage, jot down the key words or phrases in each verse. This accomplishes two things. It keeps your mind focused because you are actively engaging with the text, and it helps you remember more of what you read because you are reading AND writing it.
2) Create your own sections. This is where pastors get creative with alliteration. 😉 Take the passage you are studying and decide where the topic breaks most logically, and create your own topic phrases for them. These divisions may be different than those marked in your Bible, and that’s okay.
3) Write one sentence (try for 10 words or less!) that summarizes the passage. If you had to tell a friend very concisely what you read, how would you summarize the main point?
4) Identify the key point or takeaway from the passage. What one truth stands out to you?
5) Apply what you’ve learned. Ask yourself “how” questions, about one per section of the passage. How does what you’ve read affect your life today? How do we […show compassion, be wise stewards, write His Word on our hearts, etc…]?
The Perfect Notebook
Each of these steps can be written in a notebook as you study. Whether you are artistic and create a cute layout complete with washi tape or keep it simple, the act of writing it out is what’s most important.
A while ago, Varina Denman shared a post with us about Scripture Mapping. These steps would be a great start to a Scripture mapping notebook or bullet journal. You can easily add questions that come to your mind while you’re reading, or definitions of words you stop to look up, or other thoughts and responses to the passage. Don’t let the fear of not doing it “right” keep you from even beginning.
Have you done something similar? Or do you have a tip to share? Please leave a comment and let us know!